SBD/February 2, 2011/Media

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  • Super Bowl XLV Likely Poised To Set Yet Another Viewership Record

    The question "isn't whether Sunday's Super Bowl will break another viewership record, only by how much," according to Gary Levin of USA TODAY. Super Bowl XLIV, which featured the Saints defeating the Colts, drew 106.5 million viewers last year, breaking a record set by 1983's "M*A*S*H" finale. Based on that, it is "natural to expect this year's momentum, coupled with a classic Packers-Steelers matchup, to strike gold" for Fox. Regular-season NFL games this season averaged 17.9 million viewers, the biggest total since '89, and the playoffs "averaged 37.7 million, a record, including last week's AFC championship (a huge 54.9 million)." NFL games "marked eight of last year's top 10 TV programs." The gains are "having an effect on TV: NBC's ratings plunged 30% in the past three weeks from its 'Sunday Night Football'-fueled fall" (USA TODAY, 2/2).

    GAZING INTO THE FUTURE: Fox Sports President Eric Shanks, when asked if a Super Bowl on cable is in the future, said, "I don't think in the foreseeable future, but who knows 10, 15, 20 years down the line. The line is being blurred between over-the-air broadcast and cable. There's a generation growing up today who probably has no idea what over-the-air television even means because they or their parents just get a bill in the mail every month and they pay it. I think the economics for the foreseeable future will keep it on broadcast television" (Fox).

    Print | Tags: NFL, Fox, Media
  • Comcast-NBCU Merger Complicates NHL's TV Negotiations

    The exclusive negotiating period between the NHL and Versus for cable TV rights in the U.S. ended Monday, but it "does not mean the end to their relationship" since the window "closed amid a host of changes at the network," according to David Shoalts of the GLOBE & MAIL. An NHL exec said the relationships between the league and its U.S. broadcasters, Versus and NBC, are "complicated" now, with both networks owned by the same company. NBC has its "own window for exclusive negotiations with the NHL, and those talks are believed to be under way." Still, Shoalts notes despite the "upheaval at its television networks, the NHL can expect an increase from the $75-million it receives annually in its current contract with Versus and in the revenue-sharing deal it has with NBC." NHL ratings in the U.S. "are growing and two of its signature events posted healthy gains last month." The Jan. 1 Capitals-Penguins Bridgestone Winter Classic attracted 4.56 million viewers on NBC, giving the network the "best ratings on the night" in the 18-49 demo. Similarly, Versus drew 1.48 million viewers for Sunday's All-Star Game, up 36.2% from the last event in '09 (GLOBE & MAIL, 2/2).

    Print | Tags: NBC, Media, NHL
  • ESPN Renews Deal With UEFA For Media Rights Through '16

    ESPN will be exclusive U.S. home for Euro Cup in '12, '16 in all languages

    ESPN yesterday announced that it has reached an extension of its media rights deal with UEFA, which will allow for multiplatform coverage of the European Football Championship soccer tournaments in '12 and '16. ESPN will be the exclusive U.S. home of both tourneys in all languages, with ESPN Deportes to serve as the exclusive Spanish-language U.S. TV network for both events. The deal also includes the rights to several UEFA Euro 2012 qualifying matches, which began in September and will conclude in November '11. Meanwhile, TSN and TSN2 have signed on as the exclusive TV broadcasters in Canada for UEFA Euro 2012 and 2016. RDS and RIS will be the exclusive French-language TV broadcasters for both tournaments. The deal includes coverage of the UEFA Euro U-21 Championships and UEFA Women's Euro in '13 (THE DAILY).

    TSN LANDS MLS: The GLOBE & MAIL's Bruce Dowbiggin reported TSN also appears to have "acquired the broadcast rights" in Canada for MLS. The CBC and Rogers Sportsnet have been "carrying Toronto FC games and league championship matches since the team was formed" in '07. But sources indicated that TSN/CTV has purchased the national package in a deal that includes "rights to a weekly game featuring" either Toronto or Vancouver Whitecaps and the MLS postseason. Sources said that while the CBC "made a competitive bid," MLS "wants the profile it believes that TSN can deliver on its SportsCentre and other broadcasts." The sources noted that TSN also "has the inside track" on local rights to the expansion Whitecaps and Montreal Impact, deals that are "separately negotiated" (, 2/1).

    Print | Tags: Media, Soccer, ESPN, TSN
  • Speed To Add Primetime Programming Targeted At Casual Fans

    Speed will celebrate its 15th anniversary by “revving up its weekly primetime lineup in February with motor sports-themed reality series programming,” according to R. Thomas Umstead of MULTICHANNEL NEWS. The Fox Sports Media Group-owned network will “keep live coverage of NASCAR, Formula One, Grand American Road Racing, AMA Supercross, and MotoGP races,” but Speed President Hunter Nickell said that the new primetime reality fare “is meant to appeal to casual motor sports fans.” Nickell added that the primetime lineup, debuting the week of Feb. 21, will feature “reality series targeted to motor sports ‘enthusiasts’ into fast cars and racing.” Nickell: “There’s not a lot of motor sports competition going on Monday through Thursday night, so we’re going to feed the enthusiasts’ appetite with our new shows.” One of the new shows, “Car Warriors,” is a “reality-competition series in which eight ‘all-star’ car builders race average Joes from local garages around the race to see who can turn a basic, run-down car into a slick-running automobile.” Additional shows include “American Trucker,” which features “iconic trucks and their historic cargo missions;” “Car Science,” an “offshoot” of ESPN's “Sports Science;" and “Speedmakers,” which “takes a look at builders and epic innovators of acceleration.” Umstead notes Speed “hopes the primetime focus on reality will reverse a 19% decline in audience in 2010 to 228,000 viewers, compared to 280,000 in 2009” (MULTICHANNEL NEWS, 1/31 issue).

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  • Media Notes

    Commentator Stephen A. Smith is returning to ESPN as a local radio host and columnist. Smith beginning this week will host two weekday talk shows -- one on ESPN Radio 1050 N.Y. and the other on ESPN Radio 710 L.A. He also will cover NBA All-Star Game events and the NBA Finals for ESPN Radio. Smith will contribute regularly as a columnist on and (ESPN).

    LOOKING BETWEEN THE LINES: CBS earned a 3.5 fast-national Nielsen rating for its final-round coverage of the PGA Tour Farmers Insurance Open, a 59% increase over last year (CBS). YAHOO SPORTS’ Jay Busbee wrote while the numbers are “undoubtedly good news, it’s worth keeping in mind that this was one of the worst sporting weekends of the year.” It will be “interesting … if this growth sustains over the season.” Busbee: “If it does, we’ll have truly entered the post-Tiger era. If not, we’re getting the golf ratings equivalent of the stock market’s dead cat bounce” (, 2/1).

    PHIL 'ER UP: All 162 Phillies games “will be shown on television” this season. Comcast SportsNet Philadelphia will air 103 games, while the Comcast Network “will also air three games in April.” WPHL-MYT will broadcast 45 games, “including the home opener against the Houston Astros on April 1.” Eleven games will air nationally -- nine Saturday games on Fox and two Sunday night games on ESPN (, 2/1).

    TALKIN’ BASEBALL: ESPN will roll out daily editions of "Baseball Tonight" starting Monday at 3:30pm ET on ESPN2. The daily 30-minute show will occupy that timeslot until Opening Day, when it will move to 10:00pm and midnight Monday-Saturday and Sundays at 12:30pm and 7:00pm (John Ourand, THE DAILY).

    Print | Tags: Media
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